I would like to thank you on behalf of IDEMA Haber for accepting to make an interview with us. First, can you introduce yourself and the projects you ran by now?
My name is Nick Barniville. I am responsible for MBA and Master’s programs at ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin.
I came to ESMT after five years with INSEAD in Fontainebleau and four years with University College Dublin in Ireland, where I was born and raised. My academic background is as a development economist, so when the opportunity came to get involved with the Kofi Annan Business Schools’ Foundation (KABSF), I jumped at the chance.
Can you inform our readers about KABSF?
KABSF was formed by a small network of business schools in Europe to connect developing country talent with opportunties at their schools. Schools in the network are commited to providing a significant number of scholarships and living stipends to those who would otherwise not be able to afford to study at a top school. A second aim of the Foundation is to provide knowledge transfer between schools in the developed and the developing world. The foundation was started in 2007 and now comprises member schools in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and most recently, Turkey, through Koç University. Each school engages in fundraising under the KABSF umbrella, allowing a targeted channel for either private or public donors to give targeted donations to promising talent from the developing world.
How do you describe KABSF’s current situation in line with the goals of your constitution period?
The first five years of the Foundation were very successful, with a total of 56 Fellows graduating by the end of 2014, and significant partnerships created between schools in Europe and in several countries in Africa. The Foundation is now targeting significant growth and looking for new member schools to join the network. In the early phase, membership was limited to one school per country but now, membership is open to any top business school who can commit to fulfilling the mission of the Foundation. We have ambitions targets in terms of Fellows. Our aim is to increase our impact, and membership of the Foundation can help us to raise the necessary funds to do this.
As we know it, your Foundation is working with Koç University. What do you think about the cooperation between CSO’s and universities?
Our foundation is made up of universities as key constituents, so we are not a typcial civil society organization. We are a university-led initiative of school swho want to make a difference. It is the university behaving as a CSO itself. For most universities, there is a social dimension to the mission, and so membership of a Foundation like the KABSF is a key mission-driven activity. Having this construct means that there is a trust relationship between all members of the Foundation and no politics between conflicting university constraints and the goals and ambitions of the CSO.
In your opinion, what are the direct/undirect impacts of KABSF scholarship on the international development problems nowadays?
The first category of value creation is the education and the development of the Kofi Annan Fellows in an entrepreneurial and managerial setting. The member business schools offer talented and motivated non-privileged students from developing countries, who lack sufficient financial means, the opportunity to study at, and obtain a degree in business studies with a suitable scholarship that covers tuition fee, all other study related fees, living costs, travel and insurance.
The second category of value is creating new knowledge between the member schools and their associated partner institutions in the developing world. Initiatives for cooperation between faculty and staff on both sides of the equator bring together existing knowledge, experience and insight, from which a push in new knowledge can be expected. Cooperating schools seek to exchange expertise and best practices in the area of business development, with the ambition of developing an effective platform of knowledge. This institutional cooperation, both in education as well as in research, contributes to local capacity building at business schools in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and further strengthens the entrepreneurial capacity and capability of citizens and enterprises in developing areas.
The third dimension of value creation is fostering entrepreneurship, incl. social entrepreneurship in developing countries. Entrepreneurial activity can be found everywhere throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but there can never be enough of it. Starting up a business in developing areas often requires more creativity and greater resilience, but it also offers huge economic potential. The market is generally not as competitive, and there still is an unmet demand for many goods and services. Both government and market deficiencies can serve as an incentive for disruptive innovations.
Is there any request of scholarship from migrant students in Turkey or EU?
Yes, and there will surely be more to come. All member schools are open to awarding fellowships to those who have been forced to flee their home countries. One example is a fantastic student, Imad Attar, from Aleppo in Syria who is currently studying for his Master’s in Management at Koç University.
Can you share with us an inspiring moment you lived throughout your work experiences?
Wow. It’s difficult to know where to start with this. If I had to pick one in this context, it would be the graduation speech in 2011 of one of our Kofi Annan Fellows, Belinda Mkanganwi from Zimbabwe. It was an absolutely beautiful speech from which I will allow myself just one short quote.
“When I was young, my mother told me something that I believe explains why many of us came on this journey. She told me that I was born with my fists clenched because I was holding all the gifts that God had given me, and that my life’s job is to open my hands. There are two lessons in this: first, that each of us has unique gifts that come as seed to be nurtured. Second, that just as an apple tree bears apples not for itself but for others, these gifts are given to us, but do not belong to us; they are meant for others.”
Seeing Belinda graduate and return to lead a pharmaceutical business in Zimbabwe was an inspiration for me to continue my work with the KABSF.
As KABSF, what are your future goals and do you need some support for these?
We need to grow. We need more member schools. We need more Fellows. We need to reach more people in the developing world. We need channels to reach those brightest people in developing countries who do not know about us. Sometimes we have scholarships available but have difficulty finding the right people. So we need people to spread the world and for a KABSF scholarship to become something which the brightest minds of Africa and beyond strive for from an early age. For this, we need multipliers to spread our message. We need to find more individuals within universities who believe in connecting talent with opportunity. Any support is welcome!
Do you want to add anything else for our readers?
It was an absolute pleasure for me to have the chance to speak with you. The Turkish hospitality during our visit was truly exceptional and I am already looking forward to my next trip to Istanbul! Many thanks.